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Letter VI

LETTER VI.

Dear Sir,

INHERE is much piety and spirit in

the grateful acknowledgement of Jacob, "with my staff I passed this Jor-> "dan, and now I am become two bands." They are words which ought to affect me with a peculiar emotion. I remember that some of those mournful days, to which my last letter refers, I was busied in planting some lime or lemon-trees. The plants I put in the ground were no longer than a young goojberry bush; my master and his mistress passing by the place, stopped a while to look at me; at last, " Who "knows," says he, "who knows but by *' the time these trees grow up and bear, "you may go home to England, obtain

"the "the command oi a ship, and return to "reap the fruit of your labours; we fee *' strange things sometimes happen."—r This, as he intended it, was a cutting sarcasm. I believe he thought it full as probable that I should live to be King of Poland; yet it proved a prediction, and they (one of them at least) lived to see me return from England, in the capacity he had mentioned, and pluck some of the first limes from those very trees. How can I proceed in my relation, till I raise a monument to the divine goodness, by comparing the circumstances in which the Lord has since placed me, with what I was at that time ! Had you seen me, Sir, then go so pensive and solitary in the dead of night to wash my one shirt upon the rocks, and afterwards put it on wet, that it might dry ut on my back, while I slept; had you seen me so poor a figure, that when a ship's boat came to the island, G 3 shame

fliame often constrained me to hide myself in the woods from the sight of strangers; especially, had you known that my conduct, principles, and heart, were still darker than my outward condition—how little would you have imagined, that one, who so fully answered to the *

of the apostle, was reserved-to be so peculiar an instance of the providential care, and exuberant goodness of God. There was, at that time, but one earnest desire in my heart, which was not contrary and shocking, both to religion and reason; that one desire, though my vile licentious life rendered me peculiarly unworthy of success, and though a thousand difficulties seemed to render it impossible, the Lord was pleased to gratify. But this favour, though great, and greatly prized, was a small thing compared to the blessings of his grace: he spared me,

* Hateful, and hating one another.

to to give me, "the knowledge of Himself, "in the person of Jesus Christin love to my soul, he delivered me from the pit of corruption, and cast all my aggravated fins behind his back. He brought my feet into the paths of peace.—This is indeed the chief article, but it is not tfag whole. When he made me acceptabre to Himself in the Beloved, he gave me favour in the sight of others. He raised me new friendSj. protected and guided me through a long series of dangers, and crowned every day with repeated mercies. To him I owe it, that I am still alive, and that I am not still living in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and the want of all things: into that state I brought myself, but it was He delivered me. He has given me an easy situation in life, some experimental knowledge of his gospel, a large acquaintance amongst his people, a friendship and correspondence G 4 with with several of his most honoured servants.—But it is as difficult to enumerate my present advantages, as it is fully to describe the evils and miseries of the preceding contrast.

I know not exactly how long things fpntinued with me thus, but I believe near a twelvemonth. In this interval I wrote two or three times to my father; I gave him an account of my condition, and desired his assistance; intimating, at the fame time, that I had resolved not to return to England, unless he was pleased to fend for me: I have likewise letters by

me, wrote to Mrs. in that dismal

period; so that, at the lowest ebb, it seems, I still retained a hope of seeing her again. My father applied to his friend in Liverpoole, of whom I have spoken before, who gave orders accordingly to a captain of his, who was then fitting out for Gambia, and Sierra Leon.

Some

Some time within the year, as I have said, I obtained my master's consent to live with another trader, who dwelt upon the same Island. Without his consent I could not be taken, and he was unwilling to do it sooner, but it was then brought about. This was an alteration much to my advantage; I was soon decently clothed, lived in plenty, was considered as a companion, and trusted with the care of all his domestic effects, which were to the amount of some thousand pounds. This man had several factories, and white servants, in different places, particularly one in Kittam, the river I spoke of, which runs so near along the sea-coast. I was soon appointed to go there, where I had a share in the management of business, jointly with another of his servants: we lived as we pleased, business flourished, and our employer was satisfied. Here I began to be wretch enough to think

myself

myself happy. There is a significant phrase frequently used in those parts, that such a white man is grown black. It does not intend an alteration of complexion, but disposition. I have known several, who, settling in Africa after the age of 30 or 40, have, at that time of life, been gra^ dually assimilated to the tempers, customs, and ceremonies of the natives, so far as to prefer that country to England; they have even become dupes to all the pretended charms, necromancies, amulets, and divinations of the blinded negroes, and put more trust in such things than the wiser sort among the natives. A part of this Ipirit of infatuation was growing upon me (in time, perhaps, I might have yielded to the whole) ; I entered into closer engagements with the inhabitants, and should have lived and died a wretch amongst them, if the' Lord had not watched over me for good. Not that I had lost ^hose ideas which chiefly engaged my heart to England, but despair of seeing them accomplished made me willing to remain where I was. I thought I could more easily bear the disappointment in this situation than nearer home. But so soon as I had fixed my connections and plans with these views, the Lord providentially interposed to break them in pieces, and save me from ruin in spite of myself.

In the mean time, the ship that had orders to bring me home, arrived at Sierra Leon: the Captain made enquiry for me there and at the Bananas; but understanding that I was at a great distance in the country, he thought no more about me. Without doubt the hand of God directed my being placed at Kittamjutt at this time; for, as the ship came no nearer than the Bonanas, and staid but a few days, if I had been at the Plantanes, I could not perhaps have heard of her till

she she had been sailed. The same must have certainly been the event, had I been sent to any other factory, of which my new master had several upon different rivers. But though the place I was at was a long way up a river, much more than a hundred miles distant from the Planianes, yet, by the peculiar situation which I have already noticed, I was still within a mile of the sea-coast. To make the interposition more remarkable, I was, at that very juncture, going in quest of trade to a place at some distance directly from the sea, and should have set out a day or two before, but that we waited for a few articles from the next ship that offered, to compleat the assortment of goods, I was to take with me. We used sometimes to walk to the beach, in expectation of seeing a vessel pass by; but this was very precarious, as at that time the place was not at all resorted to by ships for trade. Many

passed passed in the night, others kept at a considerable distance from the shore. In a word, I do not know that any one had stopped while I was there, though some had before, upon observing a signal made from the shore. In February ij^y (I know not the exact day) my fellow-servant walking down to the beach in the forenoon, saw a vessel sailing past, and made a smoke in token of trade. She was already a little beyond the place, and, as. the wind was fair, the Captain was in some demur whe^ ther to stop or not; however, had my companion been half an hour later, she would have been gone beyond recall; but he soon saw her come to an anchor, and went on board in a canoe and this proved the very ship I have spoken of. One of the first questions he was asked was concerning me, and when the Captain understood I was so near, he came on shore to deliver his message. Had an

inviinvitation from. home reached me when I was sick, and starving, at the Plantanes, I should have received it as life from the dead; but now, for the reasons already given, I heard it at first with indifference. The Captain, unwilling to lose me, told a story altogether of his own framing; he gave me a very plausible account, how he had missed a large packet of letters and papers, which he mould have brought with him; but this, he said, he was sure of, saving had it from my father's own mouth, as well as from his employer, that a person, lately dead, had left me 400I. per annum, adding further, that if I was anyways embarrassed in my circumstances, he had express orders to redeem me, tho' it mould cost one half of his cargo. Every particular of this was false; nor could I' myself believe, what he said about-,the estate; but, as I had some expectations from an aged relation/1 thought a part'

of of it might be true. But I was not long in suspense; for though my father's care and desire to see me had too little weight with me, and would have been insufficient to make me quit my retreat, yet the remembrance of Mrs. , the hopes

of seeing her, and the possibility, that accepting this offer might once more put me in a way of gaining her hand, prevailed over all other considerations. The Captain further promised (and in this he kept his.,word) that I should lodge in his . cabbin, dine at his table, and be his constant companion, without expecting any service from me. And thus I was suddenly freed from a captivity of about fifteen months. I had neither a thought nor a desire of this change one hour before it took place. I embarked with him, and in a few hours lost sight of Kittam. How much is their blindness to be pitied, . who can see nothings but chance in events

of

of this sort 1 so blind and stupid was I at that time; I made no reflection. I sought no direction in what had happened: like a wave of the sea driven with the wind, and tossed, I was governed by present appearances, and looked no farther. But He, who is eyes to the blind, was leading me in a way that I knew not.

Now I am in some measure enlightened, I can easily perceive, that it is in the adjustment and concurrence of these seemingly fortuitous circumstances, that the ruling power and wisdom of God is most evidently displayed in human affairs. How many such casual events may we remark in the history of Josephs which had each a necessary influence in his ensuing promotion! If he had not dreamed, or if he had not told his dream;—if the Midianiies had passed by a day sooner, or a day later ; if they had sold him to any person but Potiphar; if his mistress ,* had been a better

woman, woman, if Pharoah's officers had not displeased their Lord ; or if any, or all these things, had fell out in any other manner or time than they did, ali that followed had been prevented; the promises and purposes of God concerning Israel, their bondage, deliverances, polity, and settlement, must have failed : and, as all these things tended to, and centered in, Christ; the promised Saviour, the desire of all nations would not have appeared; mankind had been still in their sins, without hope, and the counsels of God's eternal love, in favour of sinners, defeated. Thus we may see a connection between Joseph's first dream, and the death of our Lord Christ, with all its glorious consequences. So strong, though secret, is the concatenation between the greatest and the smallest events. What a comfortable thought is this to a believer, to know, that amidst all the various interfering designs of men, the Lord H has

has one constant design, which he cannot, will not miss, namely, his own glory in the complete salvation of his people; and that he is wise, and strong, and faithful, to make even those things, which seem contrary to this design, subservient to promote it. You have allowed me to comment .upon my own text, yet the length of this observation may need some apology. Believe me to be, with great respect,

Dear Sir,

Your .affectionate and obliged Servant, January 18, 1763.

LETTER